A more precise and up to date knowledge of surface currents

15/04/2013 News

Fine tuning drift pathways

Images from the radar observing system in the Gulf of Trieste (Italy)

Images from the radar observing system in the Gulf of Trieste (Italy)

The TOSCA project observational network was set up in five high-risk areas and has shown that data from radars and drifters can provide real-time visibility of coastal surface currents. HF radars are the only way of obtaining a synoptic view of these currents, within reduced error margins of a few kilometres and a few hours. The introduction of this data gives additional precision to the mathematical forecasting models currently in use. As an example, during an intensive observation campaign along the Var coast, models were evaluated by comparing forecasts of currents with the trajectories of floating buoys. The results showed an average error of 6 km after 12 hours and 10 km after 24 hours. Observational data will soon be available on the geographical information system developed in the framework of the project.

Tracking the slick, day and night

While very common in the United States, the use of radars for tracking currents is still in its infancy in Europe. A better knowledge of surface currents does nevertheless significantly improve capacities for tracking drift pathways. Moreover, HF radars allow us to monitor the movement of slicks during the night, in addition to aerial observation by day.

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